Understanding the importance of networking is essential, as it gives us a powerful tool used to make contacts and expand our business or enhance our professional success, to gain a greater understanding of this concept, Jane Rodríguez del Tronco, a lecturer on personal branding at EAE Business School, shared some insights with the students.
Jane began the conference by emphasizing that networking enables us to create a new network of contacts to expand on those we already have. “It is the art and science of maintaining mutually beneficial relationships”.
She explained that it is important to establish reciprocity, which requires time and dedication. The real opportunities usually arise at the second level. It is clear that, when we network, we are not asking for help, but rather advice, offering our own experiences, values and knowledge as well. “We generate trust through credibility, getting along with someone and sharing things in common with them”.
When we want to network, it is important to transmit positive energy, because people will make their way to you. “We also have to be subtle and adapt our language to the person we are dealing with”. Jane emphasized that we must make the most of informal occasions to network, adding that keeping in contact by email or social media, such as LinkedIn, is crucial.
How should we behave at an event or conference? When we do not know what type of person is going to attend an event, it is a good idea to investigate beforehand, using social media, for instance. Then it is time to prepare for the event, “getting our elevator pitch ready, choosing what to wear, preparing business cards and planning some questions”. Jane Rodríguez explained that the elevator pitch, which is used in many classes on EAE’s Master programs, is a short and impactful presentation, the aim of which is to grab people’s attention, trigger their interest and desire, and inspire them to take action. She recommends starting with a fact or question, giving a breakdown of the problem, the benefits and the features.
The lecturer emphasized that, in our speech, to sell ourselves, we have to answer two key questions: What solutions do I offer? What do clients gain by hiring me? After our preparation, it is time to take to the stage when I get to an event. “I have to show myself as being proactive, introduce myself to others, show interest, smile and come across as natural”. In the lecturer’s opinion, it is best to avoid certain topics ( politics and football) and put our mobile away.
She then gave advice on how to start a conversation when networking. “Ask open questions, create a narrative or tell a story, and do not limit yourself to conversations with a single person”. In her opinion, in one hour, we should meet at least 4 or 5 people. When you bring a conversation with one person to an end, “invite them to join other conversations”.
The event does not end there, however. It is not a matter of attending and that’s it. Afterwards, it is important to follow up on your networking. For instance, Jane insists on getting back in touch with contacts. “We always send an email first, ask for advice and invite them for coffee. After this second meeting, we also thank them by email again”. She believes that it is important to make 1 or 2 contacts a day through networks such as LinkedIn, and an average of 50 contacts a month. “Nurture this relationship, even though it is hard and we do not have time. Meet for coffee every two weeks, first thing before work, which is when it most convenient to network successfully”.